Posted at 5:05 p.m.
Road conditions remain treacherous around the region this afternoon and there are multiple road closures throughout the county. Fairfax County 9-1-1 has received calls from drivers asking about abandoning their vehicles. These vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense. If you can safely move your vehicle out of travel lanes you can call a tow truck to get the vehicle home; any vehicle left for more than 12 hours or deemed a road hazard by the police will be towed.
Abandoned vehicles may also contribute to accidents and the owner will be ticketed in this event. Exiting your vehicle puts you and other drivers in danger. If your vehicle is stuck and you are in danger, call 9-1-1, but otherwise you should have it towed.
Please remain off the roads if possible. Visibility is limited, temperatures are dropping and conditions are further deteriorating.
More than 3,800 trucks continue to plow roads in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties according to VDOT. Staying off the roads allows crews to work safely. Crews are spreading salt and abrasives, as appropriate, concentrating their response efforts on the most heavily traveled routes. VDOT’s goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a storm ends. This storm; however, may deliver a second punch as temperatures drop to record levels and icy conditions remain likely into Friday.
Posted at 1 p.m.
Several inches of snow have fallen throughout areas of the county and the storm isn’t done with us yet! Today’s snow is falling heavy and wet, so we ask that you take care while removing snow to avoid strain and injury.
Shoveling snow can by physically demanding and can lead to injuries such as sprains and strains, but even more serious heart attacks. Please follow these safety tips when you go out in today’s wintry weather:
- If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away.
- If you have a history of heart disease do not shovel without your doctor’s okay.
- Shovel small amounts of snow at a time.
- Push the snow instead of lifting where possible. If you have a driveway, move snow to the opposite side of where a plow will push.
- Use proper form if lifting is necessary: keep your back straight and lift with your legs.
- Avoid shoveling under snow and ice covered trees and roof lines due to possible falling limbs, ice and snow.
- Take breaks while shoveling and do not overexert yourself, especially if you are inactive or over 40.
- Dress in layers and wear warm clothing.
More in this short video:
As for sidewalks, the state and the county do not clear snow and ice from public walkways (sidewalks and trails). While not legally obligated, residents and businesses are asked to help keep sidewalks safe for pedestrians, people with disabilities, elderly and children.
Check out our new resource page, “Take Your Snow and Shovel It” for more information, including this guide on who removes snow:
Posted: 9:30 a.m.
According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), crews made significant progress plowing roads across northern Virginia overnight, however drivers will encounter a wide range of changing road conditions across the region today as snow begins to melt. Drivers are asked to be alert to ice and snow this morning, and evolving conditions such as slush and high water throughout the day. Interstates and primary roads in Fairfax County are mostly clear and wet.
Pavement temperatures are still hovering at freezing but should rise later in the day. Crews are already seeing standing water on some roads. As snow melts, drivers are asked to be cautious of this ponding, particularly in right lanes. Crews are also working to clear clogged drains where needed. Crews have also made one pass in most subdivisions during the storm, and due to snow totals will make a second pass in most areas.
Residents are encouraged to check www.vdotplows.org to see the status of plowing in their neighborhoods. Road problems should be reported to VDOT at 1-800-367-7623 or www.virginiadot.org/travel/citizen.asp.
Also, if you are out shoveling today, check out our new resource page, “Take Your Snow and Shovel It” for more information, including this guide on who removes snow:
Due to the inclement weather, Park Authority programs, classes and events at park facilities, including RECenters, will close at 2 p.m., with the exception of Lee District RECenter, which will close at 4 p.m.
Also, all library branches and Neighborhood and Community Services programs, activities and facilities (including community, senior and teen centers) will close at 1 p.m. today, Saturday, Feb. 21. All Fastran routes, including charter trips and Children, Youth and Families (CYF) transportation, are canceled.
Posted at 5:50 p.m.
Love is in the air, but as we posted on our Facebook page earlier today, so is the potential for dangerous wind chills (-15 degrees), frostbite, high winds (40-60 mph), power outages and some snow beginning around 6 p.m. today through Sunday afternoon. (forecast)
If you must go outside this evening, please bundle up. Also, remember to bring in pets and secure outdoor items. Plan to check in on homebound neighbors/friends too.
If you see someone outside and unsheltered, call 703-691-2131.
Possible Power Outages
With the high wind warning in effect tonight from 6 p.m. until 2 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, residents are advised that downed trees and power lines may result in power outages. Minor structural damage is possible and driving high profile vehicles in these conditions will be dangerous.
In case you lose electricity, be ready to report power outages.
- You can contact Dominion Virginia Power at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357).
- Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) customers should call 1-888-335-0500.
- Additional emergency phone numbers
With the potential for power outages, also be sure to charge your electronic devices — think your cellphone.
Posted at 3:45 p.m.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is asking drivers to prepare for a day-long storm tomorrow that could make driving hazardous in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia.
You are encouraged to monitor weather forecasts and consider teleworking or delaying travel tomorrow. Also, plan for a longer than normal commute, with snow predicted in the morning and hazardous sleet and freezing rain beginning in the afternoon.
By 4 a.m. Wednesday, VDOT reports that about 700 trucks will be staged throughout Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties to treat roads. Additional trucks may be added to handle sleet and snow during the afternoon commute.
Today, crews are pre-treating major roads and trouble spots in Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William counties. On interstates 66, 95, 395, and 495 — including bridges and ramps prone to freezing such as the Springfield interchange, I-66 at Route 29 and the Capital Beltway interchange at Route 1 — crews use liquid magnesium chloride. Problem spots on other major roads, such as the Fairfax County Parkway and routes 1, 7, 28, 29, 50 and 123, are pre-treated with salt brine.
Posted at 4:25 p.m.
A wind chill advisory is in effect from 10 p.m. this evening until 8 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday morning, Jan. 8. A wind chill advisory means that very cold air and strong winds will combine to generate low wind chills. This can result in frostbite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken. If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a hat and gloves.
The National Weather Service forecast calls for mostly cloudy conditions overnight, then gradually becoming clear, with a low around 8 degrees. Wind chill values will be as low as -5, with blustery, Northwest winds 15 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph.
What You Can Do
- If you see an unsheltered person who may be at risk of hypothermia, call the police non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
- Fairfax County’s emergency homeless shelters have additional capacity during winter months to take in people overnight who are at risk of hypothermia. Emergency personnel will determine which shelter option is best in the situation. Learn more about our emergency shelters and hypothermia program.
- You are encouraged to check in on elderly or other housebound people you may know to make sure they have enough heat and food.
- With the cold temperatures, snow that fell Tuesday can refreeze and create hazardous icy conditions, including black ice, so drive cautiously and be careful walking outside.
- Remember to clear your sidewalks of snow and ice so your neighbors and children can safety walk through the neighborhood. More details about shoveling snow can be found at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/shovel.
- Because the temperatures predicted over the next few days may be deadly to pets, the animal shelter is offering temporary, emergency housing for cats, dogs and small companion animals. If you or someone you know needs to utilize this service, contact the shelter at 703-830-1100, extension 2, or call the police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
- Pets, even those who typically live outdoors, should be brought inside; only take your pet outside for short bathroom breaks and do not leave your pet outdoors unattended. Also, make sure to provide access to non-frozen drinking water at all times.
- If you care for feral, outdoor cats make sure they have access to shelter and follow these tips from the ASPCA to ensure outdoor cats are kept safe in cold weather:
- Do not leave your pets in cars during cold weather. The inside of a car can act as a refrigerator and your pet can quickly freeze to death.
Posted at 3:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for snow, in effect from 4 a.m. until 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6. A winter weather advisory for snow means that periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.
Snow, possibly moderate at times, is expected with accumulations up to 2 inches possible under the heaviest precipitation bands. The snow is expected late tonight through Tuesday morning including the morning traffic rush, with the heaviest snow from 6 to 11 a.m. This snow, accumulating on surfaces below freezing, will make for hazardous travel conditions.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is preparing for the snow and will have crews treating area roads with salt and sand Tuesday morning, and will begin plowing after about two inches of snow has accumulated.
Tuesday’s high is expected to be above freezing (35 degrees), but the forecast calls for below freezing temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday, so be sure to dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, coat, mittens/gloves, hat and shoes/boots, and take precautions against the cold.
Watch for signs of frostbite:
- These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose.
- If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
Watch for signs of hypothermia:
- These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
- If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
Posted at 9 a.m.
Today, Sunday, Dec. 21, marks the winter solstice and begins the first official day of winter. And because of this — coupled with the slight chance of snow in the forecast for this weekend — we wanted to share some snow tips to take before snow or ice arrives that will make your life a little easier.
We’re not suggesting you have to run out to the grocery store this weekend and stock up on supplies (like the squirrel above), but we do encourage you to maintain an emergency supply kit at home, work and in your vehicle and replenish it regularly so you are prepared in case of a major snow storm.
Now we do realize that these aren’t emergency-related tips, but we hope that they are something you might not have heard of before and that will ease your frustration when dealing with an ice covered car or truck.
While these tips are designed to help you get in and out of your vehicle easier — think less scraping and defrosting — and get moving more quickly, we do encourage you to be aware of road conditions whenever you are out and about on the county’s roadways.
The most important safety tip is to get where you need to be before the weather gets bad. If we can minimize traffic on roads it’ll help VDOT snow plows clear the roads quicker while also giving public safety responders an easier path while responding to emergencies.
The National Weather Service reports that death or serious injury is more likely to occur as a result of traffic accidents than the direct impact of the storm itself.
After the Snow
If you must go outside after a snow fall (or during), be careful on walkways and roads, which can be dangerous despite appearances. Also, travel in the day if you can when visibility is better and stay on main roads (avoid back road shortcuts) that have priority for snow plowing.
Our emergency management office has lots of information and guidance on how to prepare for a winter storm. And make signing up for weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts part of your winter weather readiness efforts. You can sign up right now — it’ll only take a couple of minutes.
Posted at 11 a.m.
Not sure what to give your stubborn sister or that hard-to-buy-for uncle for their birthday or during this holiday season? Give the gift of preparedness!
Our Office of Emergency Management is pleased to announce its top gifts of 2014:
- Weather Radio – A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio is like having your own emergency siren in your home. It provides forecasts, watches, warnings and other emergency information around the clock. Cost: $20-$40.
- Emergency Food – Get creative. Put together a refillable container with their favorite long-lasting high-calorie snacks and drinks. Label it as emergency food and include information about rotating its contents every six months. Suggest they store it at work, in their car or with their home emergency kit. Cost: varies.
- Emergency Plan – Sit down with your family and develop an emergency plan with the easy-to-use template from www.ReadyNoVa.org. Know a neighbor or relative who may need help? Spread good cheer and walk them through filling out the template too. Cost: free.
- Can Opener – A good-quality handheld can opener will save frustration later. We hear a can opener fits perfectly into a stocking – naughty or nice! Cost: $10-$14.
- Emergency Vehicle Kits – You don’t want a loved one getting stuck without some roadside essentials. You could even make your own. Visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/prepare/make-a-kit.htm to learn more. Cost: around $30-$50.
- First Aid, AED and CPR Classes – First aid, automated external defibrillator (AED) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills could save a life – maybe even yours. Visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class to learn more. This would be a great family activity! Cost: $70-$110.
- Emergency Blanket – These are great to keep in the glove box – especially during the winter season. Cost: $5 per pack of four.
If your friends and family are already prepared with the items from the above list, consider donating to a disaster relief organization in their honor. And for more on emergency preparedness, call emergency management at 571-350-1000, TTY 711, or email email@example.com.
Posted at 3:55 p.m.
This week is Winter Preparedness Week across Virginia.
In the video below, Whitney Kazragis with our emergency management office offers three things you can do to be prepared for winter as well as other preparedness tips for extreme cold.
Posted at 12:30 p.m.
Earlier this year a community resilience seminar was held in Annandale, part of a pilot program funded through a UASI grant to Volunteer Fairfax to host an educational seminar and practice exercise in the Mason, Braddock and Sully Districts. These events are opportunities for local community partners to meet and better understand how we can best work together in response to a disaster.
The Mason District seminar was held in October; the accompanying exercise will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, Dec. 3, from 5-8 p.m. at the Heritage Center, conference rooms C & D, 7611 Little River Turnpike, Annandale.
Leaders and decision-makers of area community-based organizations, nonprofits, faith-based groups, homeowners associations and PTAs should attend. The event is free and dinner is even included!
In times of disaster, it will take everyone to ensure the full recovery of the community. If you can, plan on attending tomorrow’s table-top exercise and practice what was learned during the October seminar.
If you would like to attend or need more information on the exercise — or upcoming seminars/exercises in the Braddock and Sully Districts — contact Tracy Friend with Volunteer Fairfax.
Posted at 11 a.m.
Winters in Virginia often are cold, snowy and icy and can bring power outages. To highlight the importance of being winter-ready, the National Weather Service and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management have set aside this week, Nov. 30 – Dec. 6 as Winter Preparedness Week.
Last week’s snow was a gentle reminder that whether we are ready or not, we do have the chance for snow — as well as ice and freezing temperatures — throughout the winter months.
Although the current National Weather Service (NWS) winter outlook indicates Virginia could have a less severe winter than last season, you still need to be sure to have emergency plans and supplies are in place.
“A significant winter storm is possible any winter in Virginia, even during those winters with overall temperatures near or above normal,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist. “If the El Nino weather pattern happens as expected, then Virginia residents should anticipate storminess and a wetter than normal winter overall. El Nino winters are generally not snowier, but they can be, if atmospheric conditions are right. A recent example is the 2009-10 winter.”
During Winter Preparedness Week, take these preparedness steps:
Make a Kit
Basic emergency supplies include:
Three days’ food that doesn’t need refrigeration or electricity to prepare it.
Three days’ water (a gallon per person per day).
A battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries.
A first-aid kit, prescription medications, blankets and warm clothing, and supplies for special members of your household and pet items.
A power pack for recharging cellphones and other mobile devices.
For businesses and offices, keep some bottles of water and food bars on hand.
Have a radio to hear local information about whether or not it is safe to travel. Officials may advise staying in place until it is safe to travel.
Be sure to keep an emergency kit in your car as well.
Make a Plan
Everyone needs an emergency plan:
Decide who your out-of-town emergency contact will be. Where will you meet up with family members if you can’t return home?
Get an emergency plan worksheet at www.ReadyVirginia.gov or on the new Ready Virginia app.
Visit ReadyNoVa.org and create a family emergency plan or an emergency plan for your business.
Before, during and after a winter storm, you should:
Listen to local media for information and instructions from our emergency management and public safety officials.
Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and road conditions.
Get road condition information 24/7 by calling 511 or checking www.511Virginia.org.
If you do have to travel, remember to get where you need to be before the weather gets bad.
Posted at 1:20 p.m.
A National Weather Service winter weather advisory has been issued for Fairfax County for tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 26, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The advisory is for snow accumulations of anywhere between 2 to 5 inches in the far Northern and Western suburbs of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Md., and a coating to an inch near Interstate 95.
A winter weather advisory means that periods of snow will cause travel difficulties. Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities and use caution while driving.
The National Weather Service indicates that rain will change to snow between 8-11 a.m. tomorrow morning with the heaviest snow occurring through 2 p.m. Wednesday. Snow will taper off late Wednesday afternoon with temperatures in the lower to middle 30s. Winds will be north becoming northwest 10 to 15 mph with gusts around 20 mph.
With this advisory, the National Weather Service warns that roads may become snow covered and slippery, mainly across the far Northern and Western suburbs of D.C. and Baltimore. Snow will also reduce the visibility.
If you are traveling on Wednesday:
- Get where you need to be before the weather gets bad.
- Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and the effect of weather on road conditions.
- Before beginning your trip, know the current road conditions and weather forecast. For statewide highway information 24 hours a day, call 511 or go to 511virginia.org.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) also offers these suggestions to make sure your vehicle is ready for winter driving and encourages you to to check your:
- Brakes and tires.
- Battery and ignition system.
- Antifreeze and thermostat.
- Windshield wipers and de-icing washer fluid.
- Headlights, tail and brake lights, blinkers and emergency flashers.
- Exhaust system, heater and defroster.
- And properly lubricate door locks that may be prone to freezing.
Get more winter preparedness information online.
Posted at 11:30 a.m.
Our Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC) — the county’s 9-1-1 Center — has been accredited as a 9-1-1 Emergency Medical Dispatch Communications Center of Excellence by the Virginia Department of Health, Office of Emergency Medical Services. This is the fourth consecutive two-year accreditation, spanning eight years, that DPSC has received.
To receive this accreditation, a center must have an approved emergency medical dispatch program that trains 9-1-1 calltakers to provide emergency medical pre-arrival instructions to callers needing EMS response.
As an example of the positive impact of emergency medical dispatch-pre arrival instruction, in calendar year 2013, county calltakers assisted in the following critical life threatening/lifesaving events*:
- Choking Events — 7
- Child Birth Delivery Events — 12
- Drowning Events — 13
- Shooting Events — 80
- Stabbing Events — 102
- Attempted Suicide Events — 280
- CPR Events — 1,523
“Every action DPSC engages in 24/7 is of great value and importance to the residents of Fairfax County,” said DPSC Director Steve Souder, “but none more so than the lifesaving/life enabling medical instruction provided by 9-1-1 calltakers when rendering Emergency Medical Dispatch-Pre Arrival Instruction, prior to the arrival of EMS units.”
“The Virginia EMD re-accreditation is a testament to our program and the skill, ability and professionalism of our personnel,” Souder added.
The Department of Public Safety Communications is a combined police, fire and emergency medical services dispatch facility. It is the public safety answering point for all 9-1-1 calls dialed in Fairfax County, including the towns of Herndon and Vienna, and the City of Fairfax. The department also is the answering point for non-emergency calls for service for Police, Fire and Rescue. The center answers more than 1.2 million calls a year.
The Department of Public Safety Communications is located at the McConnell Public Safety and Transportation Operations Center (MPSTOC) on Alliance Drive, Fairfax.
*Statistics are based on remarks entered in CAD (computer aided dispatch) and final event types.